A lot of people wonder what the appropriate steps one should take in order to properly design a room. The answer is, start big and go small. Meaning: start with a sofa and a rug and design from there. The is the case because sofas and rugs are typically the largest and most expensive items in a room, and therefore should be selected first, making it easier to design the smaller items around it. That way, if you add a smaller item and decide it didn't look good next to the couch, it's easier and more economical to replace.
This is the easiest way to design a room, but sometimes you can't design a room from scratch. This was the case with this North Berkeley Bungalow we redid several months ago. The clients first heard of us when they came into the shop looking for a statement piece for their living room. They ended up choosing this cute leather red settee that they instantly fell in love with. A few weeks later they came back to us saying how much they love the settee, but how they are having trouble incorporating it with their current living room. They also mentioned, their living room needed some redesigning in general, so we agreed that this was a perfect opportunity to step in and help them with their design needs.
When we visited their charming bungalow, we immediately realized that their living and dining room did not match their adorable kitchen, den and home exterior. The living room was drab, awkward and did not reflect the warm and colorful personality of the clients.
The first challenge was that the client wanted more than anything to keep the settee they purchased from us, which is great, but this brought another obstacle: we had to stick under a fairly low budget, which meant that we could not paint the already existing yellow walls in order to stay under budget. If we had had a higher budget, painting the walls white would have been an instant go to. As we all know, white goes with everything, and that becomes especially convenient when you have an eye catching and colorful statement piece like the settee pictured above. A light buttery yellow was not our first choice to pair with this settee, but we had to make it work.
The next challenge we ran into was one that most families have a hard time with: Where to put all of the stuff? This Berkeley family was brimming with musical talent and loved their record collection and instruments, but there was no storage for these. So, behind the settee, they had the records stored in the fireplace (a fireplace they did not like to use) , and the instruments were just displayed on the floor by the piano.
Lastly, the dining room had a giant oak dining table that the client wanted to keep, but we all felt that the chairs and rest of the room needed some serious TLC...
We started by trying to tackle our first obstacle: how to design around the red settee. If we can't paint the walls in order to subdue the room to compliment the settee, then we thought the next best thing was to take a cue from the spunky settee and go big. Sometimes the best way to design around a colorful piece is to is to make the room equally colorful!
We started with some lovely Afghan area rugs that have different patterns, but both have a similar color family. Next we found a stunning velvet peacock blue sectional to really bring the color story home.
Next obstacle was finding storage. Luckily, our clients have great taste (they just didn't know it!). They had a stunning vintage tansu in storage and we pulled it out, cleaned it up and it became a PERFECTLY sized record cabinet that we put next to the fireplace. Once we freed up the fireplace, we thought it would be a good opportunity to fill with plants!
The piano had to stay where it was, but we were able to find a perfect size vintage AV cart that housed their instruments and music books.
Our last obstacle was to cohesive space with the dining room. As mentioned before, the dining table and chairs were staying, so reupholstering the chairs was an easy way to make the set feel new again. We picked a cleanable linen-like fabric that complimented the new rug and brightened up the room.
Once all of the large decisions were made, it was time to finally pull the room together with smaller furniture items and finishing touches.
Scouting for furniture was especially fun for this project because the clients loved color and loved vintage! We were able to find two great mid-century side tables (that paired perfectly with the new sectional), a lovely round coffee table that we painted in an avocado green, and a blue metal side table with a perfectly imperfect patina.
The last bits of decor really wrapped up the room well. We especially love the colorful baskets over the fireplace and the extra plants make the room feel extra warm and cozy.